Junior Senator From Ohio Once Again Blocks Durbin's Attempt to Confirm U.S. Attorney Nominations on the Senate Floor

Once again, Senator J.D. Vance objected to Durbin’s request

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today on the Senate floor requested unanimous consent (UC) to schedule confirmation votes on two U.S. Attorney nominations being held by U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH)—Rebecca C. Lutzko, nominated to be United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio; and April M. Perry, nominated to be United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.  U.S. Attorneys are empowered to prosecute all federal criminal offenses and are an integral part of our justice system.  Despite these nominees’ eminent qualifications, U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) once again objected to the unanimous consent request.

Last month, Durbin attempted to confirm these two nominees, as well as Todd Gee, nominated to be United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi; and Tara McGrath, nominated to be United States Attorney for the Southern District of California, by UC, but Vance objected to that request.  Durbin then requested to vote on all four nominees, which resulted in the eventual confirmation votes of Mr. Gee and Ms. McGrath.  But Vance reversed his position on scheduling votes for Ms. Lutzko and Ms. Perry.  A few weeks ago, Vance objected to Durbin’s UC request to schedule confirmation votes on these two U.S. Attorney nominations for a third and fourth time.

“U.S. Attorneys are law enforcement officers who lead our nation to prosecute violent criminals and protect our communities from drug traffickers, gun violence, terrorism, and so many other things.  They are still essential to our system of justice,” Durbin said.  “I’ve emphasized that the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Northern District of Ohio—that would be Cleveland—and the Northern District of Illinois—that would be Chicago—undertake important investigations and prosecutions that keep our communities safe.”

Durbin continued, “My constituents can’t understand why one Senator from another state is blocking the confirmation of one U.S. Attorney candidate in Illinois, April Perry, who has been found to be highly qualified not only by the White House, but by a bipartisan investigative committee of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  April Perry is well qualified for this job.  She would like to be on the job and should have been weeks ago, making it safer to live in my state.”

Durbin went on to call out the hypocrisy of Vance’s “tough on crime” rhetoric and his inaction on the issue, including repeated refusals to confirm or move forward these U.S. Attorney nominees.

“Another point I made before is the irony that the Senator who is blocking these two nominees is considering this a ‘tough on crime’ position.  Tough on crime when you refuse to put a person in the role of prosecutor who is supposed to put these criminals behind bars?  When he ran for the Senate, my colleague from Ohio pledged to ‘fight the criminals, not the cops.’  That’s his quote.  He argued that Americans will not be safe if ‘politicians keep attacking police officers instead of violent criminals,’” Durbin said.  “I just have to tell him, his strategy of stopping two leading U.S. Attorneys, one in his state and the state of Illinois, is the best news that criminals have had in a long time. The same man who pledged to fight the criminals now proudly brags that he wants to ‘grind the Department of Justice to a halt.’”

Durbin continued, “So we have reached a point where it’s hard to explain.  Senator Tuberville of Alabama is stopping military promotions of deserving women and men who have risked their lives in service to America.  Another Republican Senator is stopping ambassadorial positions being filled.  And now this Senator has decided we have enough criminal prosecutors in America to take care of crime, we don’t need more.  Well we certainly need these two and many more doing a professional job.”

Durbin concluded, “But in the meantime, whether it’s a hate crime in a suburb of Chicago or drug crimes that are claiming lives every single night in every single neighborhood in our nation, how can we stand here in good conscience and say we want to grind the Department of Justice to a halt.  That is exactly what he has said over and over again, ‘grind the Department of Justice to a halt.’  To prove what?  To prove what about this nation?  We deserve the opportunity to be protected by the agencies of government that we have appointed.  And the men and women who are willing to sacrifice their time, their skills to serve that purpose and keep us safe deserve better treatment than what’s happening on the Senate floor… This is not public service.  This is a political errand.  I wish it would come to an end soon and I wish the Senator, who is new to this body, would think twice about whether this is how he wants to write his record in the United States Senate.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

For decades, the Senate has confirmed U.S. Attorneys by voice vote or unanimous consent after they have been considered in the Judiciary Committee.  Before the 117th Congress, the last time the Senate required a roll call vote on confirmation of a U.S. Attorney nominee was 1975.  During the Trump Administration, 85 of President Trump’s U.S. Attorney nominees moved through the Judiciary Committee—of those 85, the Senate confirmed all by unanimous consent.

That precedent changed last Congress when Durbin went through this exercise twice when a Republican colleague refused to allow the Senate to confirm nearly a dozen Justice Department nominees by voice vote—the typical practice. Following one of Durbin’s unanimous consent requests, that Senator eventually lifted his objections and allowed those nominees to be confirmed.